As D.H. Lawrence once offered, “Sardinia is different”, and that becomes clear after your first walk through Bronze-age settlements, alpine forests, and white-sanded beaches. Sardinia strikes a special kind of balance between the historic and the modern; in every well-preserved tower & tomb to every sprawling beachside resort, primed for luxury and relaxation. Small hotels offer the perfect accompaniment to a holiday spent on this magical Italian island, tucking you within wild landscapes, on the beach, or in happening towns and cities.
Where to stay at a small hotel in Sardinia? Sardinia’s regions at a glance:
The Costa Smeralda: Total luxury on the Emerald Coast
The Costa Smersalda, or the Emerald Coast, has a funny reputation of being the meeting point of billionaires, royalty, models, and stunning blue-green waves. The posh resort towns that line the northwestern coast of Sardinia are bustling with character and class, each with a particular personality and style. Small hotels on the Costa Smeralda ensure you’ll get the most out of this magical coastline, placing you in cozy interiors with top-rate service. These charming spots prove to be the best option for those seeking a special oasis to return home to after a day lavishing with the world’s elite. Surrounded by olive orchards, built into the mountains, or right on the coast, prepare to relax and reset. The de facto capital of the area is Porto Cervo and it’s worth a visit for the otherworldly churches and translucent waters, if not just for the swanky clubs and wicked views. Boasting a suite of pristine beaches, some classically white-sanded and sprawling, and others more natural, tucked at the base of rocky cliffs, you can beach-hop based on your own preferences. Beyond the beaches, make sure to check out the Giant Tombs of Coddu Ecchju and the 14th-century Little Nuragic Temple of Malchittu to get your fill of the historic.
Alghero and the Northwest: Countryside bliss and charming old towns
Alghero is home to a very special ambiance, one that is rich in culture and history — from its classically Catalan architecture to its rolling hills and sprawling vineyards. The town boasts 5 kilometers of sandy coast, a nice collection of restaurants and bars, and a green inland. The region of Alghero is also home to the famous Neptune’s Grotto, a stalactite cave which lies at the foot on the Cappo Caccia Cliffs, upon which sits the iconic Capo Caccia Lighthouse; this suite of landmarks is well worth a visit for lovers of the Romantic. The small hotels on Sardinia’s west coast and in Alghero are a great choice for those looking to soak up the unparalleled beauty of the island, while a little bit away from the hordes of other visitors and the happening party scenes on some of the other coasts. Find sweet hotels tucked into the countryside with a focus on the old charms of Sardinia, i.e. rustic eating, time in the sun, and simple pleasures, shared with the family or your partner surrounded by the crisp island air. Most beaches on this coast, many considered the best of the island, offer opportunities for windsurfing, diving, and boating, making the region also a great destination for a family-oriented vacation.
Southern Sardinia: Rural tranquility and Sardinia’s capital
Last but certainly not least is the beautiful and rural Southern Sardinia. The southern coast and region is true, unspoiled Italy. Much of the region consists of a vast Campidano plain, making the inland a lush and green rural wonderland. Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and a haven for lovers of history and beach cities. In the center of the southern coast, Cagliari has been a major port city in the Mediterranean throughout its long and complex history. Now, this bustling and beautiful place is home to a long list of historical attractions, 13-century architecture, and a pretty marina. A small hotel in Cagliari promises total comfort amidst luxurious, old-Italian charm. Just south down the coast from Cagliari, find the quaint market town of Pula, primed for lazy days spent meandering through rows of fresh produce and authentic Italian fare. The ruins of Nora are situated just south of Pula and radiate a special pre-Roman ambiance. For a particularly special stay, try a small hotel tucked in the mountains of Southern Sardinia, hovering over vast cliffs looking out into nothing but pure-blue waters. These hotels are surrounded by the vast natural landscapes and promise to be the perfect complement to a vacation geared toward R&R. Some other must-dos in the region include a visit to the otherworldly waterscapes of Località Tuerredda and Spiaggia di Porto Giunco and a hike through the pretty and varied terrain.
Good to know
Getting there: There are three airports on Sardinia: Olbia (OLB), Cagliari (CAG) and Alghero (AHO), which are all serviced by major and budget airlines from many places in the UK. There are a series of boats that travel along the coast between major cities on the island, which are both a great way to catch some of Sardinia’s more hidden highlights and get around in a fun way. Beyond that, driving is easy on the island but do book your car hire in advance to save a lot of money.